Medical emergencies and how savings could be used towards medical expenses

Medical emergencies and how savings could be used towards medical expenses
23rd February 2023


“Change is always tough. Even for those who see themselves as agents of change, the process of starting a new thing can cause times of disorientation, uncertainty and insecurity. – Joyce Meyer/em>

Medical emergencies can occur without a moment’s notice. However, the UK has an NHS health system which provides free medical care to most UK residents, which means that most people will receive treatment for several diseases and conditions through the NHS. However, there are instances that the NHS cannot provide free treatments as they can be quite expensive; they also may refuse to send patients for vital examinations as they determine that the patient does not need one, which can sometimes lead to costly mistakes.

Therefore, when treatments or exams are not possible through the NHS, many seek alternatives such as private medical care. There are a significant number of people who have had experiences that have left them with the perspective that the NHS is increasingly failing to meet the medical demand through an adequate level of care. According to the Guardian, people feel like this because of long waiting times for GP and hospital appointments, staff deficiencies and lack of funding by the government. However, just 25% are of the perspective that the NHS should receive further funding. Supporters of Labour and Tory largely favour NHS founding standards, with 94% wanting the NHS to continue to be free for everyone and 86% wanting funding through taxes.

Moreover, in the UK, the number of people waiting for hospital treatment has increased to 6.5 million. A pattern emerged between 2012 and 2019 of the waiting lists constantly rising; however, from early 2021, this raised more rapidly. There was an 18-week aim for treatment, but unfortunately, this target has been missed since 2016.

In addition, the number of A&E visits since 2012 has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Waiting times of over 4 hours also increased between 2015 and 2020. In March 2022, a record 41.3% rise was recorded.

Private Health Care Insurance

Private medical insurance covers, part or all medical expenses if you seek private treatment. Health care also enables people to choose how much care they want and when they require treatment.

People who prefer not to use the NHS can find it quite costly to seek private treatment, particularly for severe illnesses.

Advantages of Private Healthcare Insurance

  1. Private health care gives you access to specialist referrals; your GP can make a referral to a private specialist for you to receive a second opinion or treatment.

  2. Request the scans you want; for instance, if the NHS delays a scan or says you do not need one, the coverage you get from paying for health care can be used towards it.

  3. The waiting time for NHS treatments can take a while as the demand for NHS treatment is high. The insurance can be used to lessen your waiting time for treatment if the waiting period is more than six weeks with the NHS.

  4. You choose the physician and hospital to suit your requirements which cannot be done through the NHS

  5. There is a higher possibility of getting a private room than an open ward with both men and women.


  6. Some treatments are not available under the NHS for free as they are too costly or not authorised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in England and Wales (NICE) or the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).

  7. Physiotherapy sessions are given faster if you have insurance than through NHS treatment.

Disadvantages of private healthcare Insurance

  1. The NHS might give you better treatment for severe diseases such as cancer, heart disease or stroke and is likely to prioritise treatment for people with these conditions. Private healthcare insurance does not always cover more severe illnesses, whereas NHS covers many diseases for free.

  2. Private medical insurance is costly, and the price will continue to increase. An average family premium (two adults with two kids under 10) can range from £700 to £1,800 per year. Premiums increase each year as you get older, which means when you are no longer a spring chicken and are elderly and might require more hospital treatment due to more illnesses attributed by factors such as old age, it might not be affordable for you.

  3. Diseases which are chronic in nature are generally not covered. The majority of fees do not include coverage for incurable illnesses such as diabetes and certain cancers.

  4. Private health insurances do not typically cover pre-existing conditions. Some health insurance providers may allow you to add this to the policy, which will increase the price of coverage further.

  5. There is no guarantee that treatment options will be accessible locally. Therefore, if you pick a policy with an approved list of experts and hospitals, this may not include your preferred consultant or suitable location for your treatment.

Alternative options to having Private health care:

Depending on your financial capacity, you may want to use savings to pay for all or part of your medical care; roughly one in five private patients are doing this. Hip and knee replacements are typically £10,000 each, and MRI scans range from £500. Though you can try to find lower prices and ask your GP to assist you with this.

You can also pay for a private appointment if you are not convinced by your doctor’s diagnosis and want a second opinion. After that, your consultant may refer you to NHS if further treatment is required.

Why Saving money for medical emergencies is essential?

Building an emergency fund is vital as sometimes medical emergencies can pop out of the blue; even whilst you are on holiday, letting your hair down, the unexpected medical problem could prop up.

A substantial number of people in the UK go abroad each year for holidays; 23.8 million trips were made abroad in 2020, 74% less than in 2019 because of the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, UK residents spent £13.8 billion abroad; this was 78% less than in 2019.

If a medical emergency happens while you are on holiday and you have saved, this can be used towards the cost of medical treatment abroad or emergency return flights.

The recommended savings account is an instant access account, covering a minimum of three months’ worth of expenses to save for potential emergencies. If your income is reduced because you are made redundant or suffer a medical emergency such as an injury, you will have a few savings to rely on if things get tight.

However, it is crucial to ensure you are financially prepared to put money in a savings account before taking the plunge.

Clear up anything that may be outstanding such as:

  • Debt attributed to Credit card

  • Unauthorised overdraft

  • Pay-day loans

  • Outstanding mortgage repayments

  • Door-door lending or home credit

Long term, it may be less expensive to pay any of the above off before opening an emergency saving account; however, if you are not missing mortgage repayments or any other form of credit you have is low-cost, short term or well-managed, making this part of your emergency fund may be worthwhile.

Although medical treatment can be quite costly and having savings may not be enough to cover the total cost of treatment, even if you still need to set up a funding page, if you have saved some money, you will not be entirely reliant on donations from and will be able to reach the needed amount quicker. Savings are also advantageous to get a second opinion. In addition, saving money for emergencies such as medical crises can also be beneficial if doctors from NHS are refusing to do the necessary exams you are asking for because they want to save money; if you have savings or private healthcare, you could use this towards paying for a medical exam.

On the one hand, private healthcare can cost an arm and a leg and does not usually cover chronic diseases.

On the other hand, savings can provide a financial cushion to pay for medical exams and go towards treatments unavailable through the NHS.

Nevertheless, the NHS is still an invaluable healthcare system as, without it, many would have no access to medical care, like in countries like America, where people need insurance to receive medical treatment. Ideally, private healthcare or savings would be accessed in cases where the NHS cannot provide the treatment required because the treatment is too expensive or because they are refusing to carry out specific exams such as MRIs.